Notes and observations from today’s voluntary practice in Santa Clara…
• Absent from the festivities were RB Frank Gore (travel issues), DL Aubrayo Franklin (unhappy with franchise tender) and Kentwan Balmer (injury rehab), LBs Manny Lawson (possible holdout) and Keaton Kristick (college class hasn’t graduated yet), and CBs Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements (both working out elsewhere).
• LBs Patrick Willis and Travis LaBoy, RB Anthony Dixon and CB Will James all took part in individual drills before sitting out the team period.
• The first-team defense remained what it has been during most of OTAs: Justin Smith, Ricky Jean Francois and Isaac Sopoaga on the line, Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks at OLB, Takeo Spikes and Matt Wilhelm inside, Tarell Brown and Karl Paymah at the corners, and Dashon Goldson and Michael Lewis at safety. When the team went to a 4-4 scheme in short yardage, Ray McDonald took over at one end with Sopoaga moving inside, and Paymah left the field.
• The 49ers officially traded WR Isaac Bruce to St. Louis so that he might retire a Ram. His old team will have a press conference in a couple days to wish him farewell.
• The team practiced a lot of short-yardage and backed-up plays today.
• Justin Smith made at least one great read, refusing to bite on a play fake and charging hard at Alex Smith as he attempted a reverse bootleg.
• If undrafted rookie WR Scott Long doesn’t make the 49ers’ roster, it won’t be for lack of effort. On most plays where he wasn’t participating, Long lined up about 20 yards behind the play and shadowed his assignments, motioning across the field and practicing a get-off from the line without running the ensuing route.
• DBs coach Johnnie Lynn was riding rookie CB Phillip Adams hard today, which can be taken as a good sign for Adams.
• Nice play by Parys Haralson, tipping Alex Smith’s pass to Glen Coffee not once but twice, ultimately breaking it up.
• Smith had two passes batted at the line. Backup David Carr had one batted, and left one attempted handoff on the ground. Sopoaga absolutely planted one of Smith’s passes.
Much more coming later.